Caroline Dinenage meets with Children's Services boss to discuss consultation

Local MP Caroline Dinenage today met with Councillor Keith Mans, Executive Lead Member for Children's Services, Hampshire County Council to discuss the Children’s Services Consultation which is currently taking place.

Hampshire County Council is asking for views on a proposed new Family Support Service for families with children aged 0–19 years (or up to age 25 for young adults with learning difficulties and/or disabilities). The Council say that this would involve the development of a single service which would bring together the work of children’s centres, Early Help Hubs (including Youth Support Services) and align with the Supporting Troubled Families Programme to provide a joined-up, whole-family service to those who have high levels of need but do not meet the threshold for statutory social care.

This proposal would close five of the six Children’s Centre’s in Gosport and leave the Rowner Centre as a Family Support Service Hub. Back in 2011 Caroline campaigned against the closure of Surestart centres and her position remains the same. She wrote to Hampshire County Council to express her concerns and request an urgent meeting with Councillor Mans on the matter.

Caroline said: 

“Back in 2011, I vehemently campaigned against the closure of Surestart centres in my constituency, even speaking to the Prime Minister against proposed cuts to these frontline service upon which so many local people rely. 

I was shocked and saddened to learn that similar proposals are back on the table.  I took the opportunity to meet with Cllr Mans to express my grave concerns about Hampshire County Council’s proposals for a stream-lined Family Support Service that would shut down five out of six children’s centres in my constituency.

These centres provide invaluable services to my constituents. Families sometimes need practical and social support when coping with the challenges of raising young children. This is particularly true in Gosport which not only has pockets of deprivation but also many forces families which may not have nearby relatives to rely upon for support.

In my meeting I strongly urged Hampshire County Council to reconsider these proposals Cllr Mans agreed to take my concerns into consideration as part of the consultation.

I would encourage constituents to make their voices heard too."

The consultation can be found at http://www3.hants.gov.uk/childrens-services-consultation and closes at midday on 3 May 2016.